The Foundation for Peripheral Neuropathy will be hosting its third International Research Symposium, September 7-9, 2016:
Advances in Neuropathy – Emerging Therapies
The Symposium brought together basic scientists and clinical researchers to review the current state of drug development for neuropathic pain in peripheral neuropathies and identify roadblocks in development of more effective therapies for a condition that has huge public health impact.
Objectives of Peripheral Neuropathy Research Symposium
The format of the meeting was different than usual scientific meetings. Instead of disparate topics presented by multiple investigators, we had a workshop style open discussion on three areas that are important to developing innovative therapies for neuropathic pain in peripheral neuropathies. The primary goals of the meeting were accomplished by addressing the following key objectives:
1. Multidisciplinary attendance: A major goal of the FPN Research Symposium is to bring together physicians, clinical investigators and basic scientists from a broad range of disciplines to outline the state-of-art in neuropathic pain and peripheral neuropathy research and identify major roadblocks to development of innovative therapies. The speakers and panelists were selected from a wide range disciplines with the goal of fostering interaction among scientists that normally would not meet together.
2. Focus on translational neuroscience: There is a great deal of interest from the scientific community and funding agencies in translational science. However, most scientific meetings focus on either clinical or basic science, particularly in the focused area of peripheral nerve research. For example, major neurology meetings such as the American Academy of Neurology attract those interested in clinical neuropathy trials, but are of less interest to basic neuroscientists interested in mechanisms of nerve injury and neuropathic pain. In turn, these basic neuroscientists will attend the Society for Neuroscience, a meeting rarely attended by clinical investigators. There is a clear benefit to providing an opportunity for these two groups to interact in depth, given that effective treatments for neuropathy and neuropathic pain will grow out of an understanding of the basic mechanisms of peripheral nerve injury and neuropathic pain. The FPN Research Symposium provided a unique opportunity for thought leaders in both basic science, translational science and clinical investigators to get together to identify roadblocks to successful therapies for peripheral neuropathy and neuropathic pain.
3. Development of junior investigators: One of the goals of the FPN is to foster development of new investigators in the peripheral neuropathy research field. Despite being a very common disease, the number of investigators in peripheral neuropathy research field is relatively small compared to other neurological illnesses. This small, intimate symposium is designed to give young investigators an opportunity for one-on- one interaction with leaders in the field. Furthermore, open discussion sessions encouraged participation by the young investigators and helped shape the final recommendations that will come out of the symposium.
4. Development of guidelines for future research: A major roadblock in translating basic research into clinically effective therapies has been the suitability of in vitro and in vivo models and availability of cost- effective clinical trial designs due to lack of bio markers. Through a consensus building process during the open table discussions, a summary will be generated as a supplement to the Journal of the Peripheral Nervous System and published as a road map for future research focus.
The field of peripheral nerve biology and disease is rapidly evolving. For example, there have been 2,954 articles published in the past 2 years with the key word “peripheral neuropathy” and 3,372 articles published in the past 2 years with the key word “neuropathic pain”. This rapid evolution of the field supports the need for regular meetings and such scientific meetings do exist (e.g. biennial meeting of the Peripheral Nerve Society, annual meetings of the American Pain Society and International Association for the Study of Pain). However, there is no directly comparable meeting to the 2016 FPN Research Symposium. which focused on chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy, innovative drug targets in the pipeline for neuropathic pain in peripheral neuropathies and use of cannabis in neuropathic pain. The symposium aimed to identify roadblocks in translation from bench research to clinical trials.
Conference Format and Scientific Program
The 2016 FPN Research Symposium brought together basic scientists and clinical researchers to review the current state of knowledge in chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathy (CIPN), drug development for neuropathic pain and use of cannabis in peripheral neuropathies. The format of the meeting was different from usual scientific meetings. Instead of disparate topics presented by multiple investigators, there was a workshop style open discussion on these topics led by key speakers.
The first session was on chemotherapy induced peripheral neuropathies. This session brought together discussions on basic mechanisms of CIPN and clinical trial design and outcomes research. Our goal was to identify novel drug targets and roadblocks in moving potential therapies to clinical trials.
The second session was on preclinical drug development for neuropathic pain; focusing on novel drugs that are in pipeline for peripheral neuropathies and neuropathic pain. In this session there were presentations by investigators from industry and academia highlighting some of the new upcoming drugs for neuropathic pain. These were chosen based on strength of preclinical data and novelty of the molecular targets.
The third session focused on medicinal use of cannabis in peripheral neuropathies and neuropathic pain. Similar to session one, it combined basic science discussions with clinical topics to stimulate further research on this timely topic. Although medicinal use of cannabis has been promoted, and approved, by many state legislatures, the basic research on mechanisms of its action in peripheral neuropathies is limited and clinical use needs validation. Our goal in this session was to identify areas of basic and clinical research to support or refute use of cannabis in peripheral neuropathies and neuropathic pain.
First and third sessions had two parts with initial presentations by leaders in the field followed by an open discussion. Each participant was asked to bring 2 questions that they identify as major obstacles to move the field forward; discussions centered around solutions to these important questions. At the end of the meeting, summary papers will be published.
For a description of the 2014 International Research Symposium and videos of the sessions visit our website  Videos from this 2016 symposium will be published on the website in the coming months.